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Ramy Jallad- CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone

By Shereen Shabnam

Investors who are looking to venture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) often have their mind set on establishing their business in one of the country’s free trade zones. While Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to share the spotlight as the UAE’s leading free zone hubs, making a name of its own is the successful Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) and on its helm sits a visionary, Ramy Jallad.

The regions’ special tax, customs and regulations make free zones ideal locations for hassle-free business operations. According to Ramy, there are many things that differentiate RAK FTZ from other free zones. For example, they have been recognised by fDi Magazine, a subsidiary of the London-based Financial Times, as one of the best free zones in the world for small and medium-sized businesses as well as in the “Global Free Zone of the Year 2015” for unrelenting startup support, encouraging excellence, upgrading facilities, and stimulating new investments

Such impressive performance would not be possible without the existence of RAK FTZ’s wide-ranging incentives, comprising of tax exemptions, access to major logistical hubs, tailor-made facilities and award-winning business support services. Ramy mentions that RAK FTZ offers the same advantages as the other free zones such as 100 per cent foreign ownership and no taxation. But the clients don’t have to invest as much money to get the same results. As an added incentive, the cost of operating a business and living in Ras Al Khaimah is 25 per cent to 50 per cent lower than it is in other emirates, which allows clients to see higher return on investment.

Furthermore, RAK FTZ offers its growing number of clients a strategic location to set up their business for a solid global presence. RAK is at the crossroads of fast-emerging markets, allowing just four-hour flight time to 31 per cent of the world’s population. The emirate also provides abundant trade and export benefits with its five major maritime channels, which includes SaqrPort, the largest container port in the Middle East.

Over the course 2015, the free zone rolled out infrastructure developments, such as the construction of 100 new warehouses in its Technology Park, a multi-million District Cooling Plant, and the Boulevard Business Centre in Downtown Dubai. When it comes to its business support, RAK FTZ places immense effort in making sure that it is assisting clients efficiently and effectively through its business-in-a-box approach. Moreover, RAK FTZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RAK Municipality to lessen the waiting time needed for approvals and issuance of documents.

With various development plans already in the pipeline, RAK FTZ is determined to bring further reputation and economic boost to its beloved emirate. Among its core focus in the next couple of years is to bring high-quality international education providers to RAK and position the emirate as a landmark for academic excellence in the Middle East region through the ongoing expansion of its RAK Academic Zone.

Ramy mentions that client satisfaction is one of his highest priorities. “We are here to help clients set up and grow profitable companies, and that is why excellent customer service is at the heart of our business model. From purchasing to after-sales, we make sure to provide ongoing business support to keep them happy. We tailor our products and services to meet the specific, individual needs of each client. Whether they need flexi desks, executive offices, warehouses or land to develop their own facilities, or business packages that provide the right kind of incentives, we meet the needs of our clients on their own terms to help them succeed,” he adds.

Ramy’s vision is to execute the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), to diversify the emirate’s economic activity. In the past, RAK’s economy has been focused on industrial manufacturing. Today, he works hand-in-hand with the government and the private sector to attract foreign investors from other industries, including trading, sales and marketing, services, as well as logistics and distribution.

Ramy has been in business for 24 years and every day, there is a surprise. He mentions, “That’s what keeps me going. The surprise is that there is no limit to what you can do. Once I’ve seen it all, there is no reason for me to continue. As you grow older, you realise that we are the only people who limit ourselves. The barriers do not come from others. Other people may see things differently from the way that you do. No two people will see the same thing the same way. The surprise is that someone will give you a different perspective that allows you to see the whole picture.”

Growing up in UAE, Ramy’s childhood experiences were very positive. He witnessed exponential growth and development. After completing college, he did not want to live anywhere else. He loved the pace of life, the environment, the people, and the culture and after travelling the world and witnessing life all over the globe, the quality of life in UAE is second to none.

Ramy loves watches and his favourite brands revolve around the pure art of watch making. He likes BRM (Bernard Richards Manufacture) because it reflects a unique association of motor sports and the racing lifestyle that I admire.

When asked about having a personal touch in business, Ramy mentions that companies are always run based on visions, boards, cultures and corporate values. However, as a leader, you must have your own personal touch. That’s why you’re entrusted as a leader. Everything is about personal touch, the kind of stamp you place on everything you do, the way you guide and direct the organisation.

What motivates Ramy is challenging himself to make an impact and positive change wherever he goes and make a difference in whatever he does. He adds, “What I love about free zones is that I am making an impact and instituting changes that benefit an entire nation’s economy. In free zones, I am improving the quality of life for people, fostering interaction between diverse cultures, and increasing the level of services that businesses receive.”

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